Marijuana is probably the most commonly abused drug today. According to recent surveys by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, “more than 83 million Americans (37 percent) age 12 and older have tried marijuana once.”
Also known as pot, grass, reefer, weed, herb, Mary Jane, or MJ, marijuana is a mixture of leaves, stems, seeds and flowers taken from a hemp plant called Cannabis sativum. It is more commonly smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes. Some users also opt to replace tobacco in regular cigars with marijuana or use water pipes to take the drug. The plant can also be brewed as tea or mixed into food.
The reason why marijuana is addictive is because it contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a substance that has proven mind-altering effects. The amount of this substance in a drug indicates how potent it is.
A user experiences the effects of marijuana within just a couple of seconds after he smokes it. These effects usually last from one to three hours depending on how potent the shot is. However, when the plant is mixed in food or drink, it may take thirty minutes to an hour before the user experiences the short-term effects of the drug although these effects are purported to last longer than if one smokes the plant.
The immediate effects of smoking or ingesting marijuana include increased heartbeat, relaxed bronchial passages, and development of bloodshot eyes. The effects of the drug can be magnified especially when it is taken along with other types of stimulants such as cocaine.
Marijuana is a stimulant and as such, it causes euphoria because it directly targets the areas in the brain associated with reward feelings. These are the same places that react when one eats or drinks – the satiation sites. This drug promotes the release of dopamine so that the user experiences pleasant sensations. Colors and sounds are clearer and more vibrant. However, once the feeling passes and the euphoric effects of marijuana are gone, the user’s mood suddenly drops and he would feel depressed, anxious or sleepy.
Aside from these effects, marijuana also tends to affect the individuals ability to create memories or remember things that happen to him. It can also wreak havoc on the user’s balance and coordination. Mental faculties related to getting good grades or doing well at work are also targeted so that students who smoke pot are known to have lower grades and a deteriorating performance at school.
Science has still yet to discover a proper treatment for marijuana abuse but there are many studies being conducted on the mechanism of THC in the brain and this would hopefully lead to a breakthrough in the years to come.
Here at Miramar Recovery Center, we work to provide innovative approaches to treating substance abuse. We have progressive alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation programs that have helped countless individuals gain control of their lives again.